The Tulane Joint Hearing Board found the Sigma Gamma chapter of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity not responsible for four of five charges related to hazing allegations and alcohol violations at Mondayâ€™s hearing. The conduct board found the fraternity responsible for violating their interim suspension and not responsible for charges relating to hazing and alcohol violations.
Both Kevin Bailey, assistant vice president for student life, and David Hotz, director of fraternity and sorority programs, declined to comment and deferred to Public Relations Director Michael Strecker.
Tulane placed Sigma Alpha Mu on interim suspension Jan. 15, when it became aware of hazing allegations, Strecker said.
The allegations were made by Curtis Mertensmeyer, who participated in Sigma Alpha Mu pledging last year and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in February after killing Daniel Riemann in a hit-and-run while driving drunk May 11, 2008 in Kansas City, Mo. Mertensmeyer sued Sigma Alpha Mu, Incorporated for post-traumatic stress syndrome that he said resulted from hazing by the fraternityâ€™s Tulane chapter. The PTSS impacted his decision-making abilities in the accident, according to his suit. Tulane decided to follow up on Mertensmeyerâ€™s allegations against the fraternity.
The hearing then began March 9, lasting for seven hours, and reconvened this Monday for another three to four hours, Sigma Alpha Mu President Matt Peterson said.
â€œThey found us not responsible for any of the hazing or alcohol violations â€” only for non-compliance,â€ Peterson said. â€œThat involved new members who still had study hours some of the time we were on suspension. As soon as the school told me that was a violation, though, I had them cancel it.â€
The conduct board asked Peterson for his preference on sanctions, and he suggested community service.
â€œIt would get us back on the good side of the school, community and students and do some good, instead of just paying a fine,â€ he said.
The sanctions for violating the interim suspension will be officially handed down in a few days, Strecker said.
â€œWhat it comes down to is [the administration] is just doing its job, but it could have been done in a more timely manner, considering weâ€™ve been on suspension for two months on what turns out to be completely false allegations,â€ Peterson said. â€œIt should have been handled a little quicker, a little more quietly.â€
The two-month gap between suspension and the hearing was due to Tulaneâ€™s investigation into the allegations.
â€œAs part of the investigation, Bailey and the Tulane University Police Department interviewed the fraternityâ€™s members, its officers and other students,â€ Strecker said. â€œAn investigation such as this takes time.â€
Two fraternity members, Scott Cummings and Matt Noonan, were specifically mentioned in the hazing allegations cleared by the board.
â€œI especially feel bad for Noonan and Cummings because they were basically picked out of a hat,â€ Peterson said. â€œIt sucks that our reputation and their personal reputations have been tarnished based on false allegations by a convicted killer.â€
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